The ‘so called experts’ of social media are calling it as such: whilst the Tories spent millions targeting ‘the youf’ with online ads, the stuff getting noticed was the content the youf themselves where making for each other, generally dissing the Tories.
Typically missing the point of the medium, a banner ad declaring that what the country really needs is Strong and Stable leadership is going to have an impossibly hard time competing with ANY of the following… (a worthy sample of the burst of digital creativity that made is laugh our way though this election.)
So did the Meme cause the biggest political upset since… well… last year?
You decide if the following would have swayed YOUR vote! (If it needed swaying.)
How we watch is changing
This isn’t necessarily to do with smartphone filmmaking, but smartphone film-watching. Even just a decade ago, it was relatively rare- and quite expensive indeed- to buy a ‘smartphone’ that could access and play video through the internet. It was around ten years ago that the first iPhone was released, and although it was popular, it was simply one among many phones rather than the hegemonic beast it is today.
Today, though, the ease with which we can watch movies on smartphones is changing how we consume not just film, but all media. Whereas before, we might get our news at ten o’clock from the BBC or ITV, now we find things out on the go through news apps. Similarly, sites like Netflix have changed how we watch film: it’s completely ordinary to see people on the way to work watching films or TV through either Netflix, iTunes or Hulu.
This is partly down to the fact that Wi-Fi has become far more common on trains, buses and at cafés. It’s also because data plans are cheaper and data can be downloaded faster through a 4G mobile connection. Ten years ago, it was practically infeasible to watch films of real length on smartphones without constant buffering and poor quality, but today we can watch TV and film in high resolution wherever we go (except through train tunnels; they still haven’t figured that one out).
How we film is changing
It’s not just how we consume media that’s changed, it’s how we create media, film included. If you take a quick peek around YouTube, you might get an idea of the general quality of smartphone filmmaking: shaky and unstable, poor quality audio and strange aspect ratios abound. But here’s a few smartphone filmmaking tips that take into account the way that cinema is changing for the better:
- Camera equipment for smartphones is making films shot on iPhones and Android actually look good. Tripods and stands, 35mm lenses and even editing software apps mean that you can shoot a professional film just with your phone. The first film shot on an iPhone, for instance, was called Night Fishing– a half an hour short shot through a 35mm lens. A more recent film called Tangerine used an anamorphic lens to achieve the wide-angle look of professional films, but was still captured with an iPhone 5.
- You don’t have to stick to traditional filmmaking. A recent film, STARVECROW, was billed as the world’s first ‘selfie movie’. But it wasn’t just a gimmick; it was part of the story, which was supposed to highlight the topics of surveillance, self-surveillance, narcissism and voyeurism. It was tapered down from over 70 hours of semi-scripted and improvised footage into an 85 minute feature film, which is really worth a watch.
This might sound backwards, even nonsensical or illogical. But being overly passionate about your project can make you feel like every decision you make is the right one when, to be realistic, you can’t always get everything right. It’s simply a fact of filmmaking- and if anything it’s a fact of life.
This can be a matter of technicalities, like colour, light and sound; it can also be a matter of bad choices, like filming a project at the wrong time in your career. Perhaps the script you’ve put together isn’t as good as you think it is, and could do with a few more drafts. Or, you could have picked the wrong people to play your characters. It can be surprisingly difficult to work with friends, especially when it comes to dividing any hard earned income.
Passion breeds over-ambition
If you’re overly passionate about your project, you might be biting off more than you can chew. This is because it can be surprisingly difficult to get your vision off the ground, not just because of time and effort, but because of cost. Visions can be uncompromising, especially if you’re as convinced of your own project as the person above.
But visions can also cost a lot of money. If a particular shot requires a particular lens, you might justify buying it because of your certainty that your film will be a success. Ditto a lighting setup, a bigger and more established name for your lead role, a filming location hundreds of miles away… Pretty soon, though, those costs start to add up and make it exceptionally difficult for you to make anything back from your project. There’s nothing wrong with keeping it simple, and maybe once you’ve established your career in film making, you can revisit your project with Tom Cruise and eye-popping CGI.
Passion isn’t a rare commodity that will set you apart
Believe it or not, almost everyone trying to carve out a career in filmmaking has passion. And that’s almost unique: if you work as an HR manager and you’re genuinely passionate about what you do, then you better believe that it sets you apart. But what students searching for film studies jobs often don’t realise is that putting ‘filmmaker with passion’ on your CV is akin to putting ‘filmmaker who breathes air’ or ‘filmmaker that requires food’.
If you’re in too deep, you’ve probably just told yourself ‘That may be true, but I’m especially passionate about what I do.’ And this isn’t intended as an insult, but you’re not. We all love what we do, and would like to do it as a career. Many people before you have been there and bought the T-shirt. A good proportion of them found that after all was said and done, a career in film making wasn’t ideal or wasn’t possible for them.
In summary, no great film or career in film will run on passion alone. Passion is merely one of the essential ingredients, but there are many more on the list to succeed as a filmmaker.
Pre-production, also known as the planning stage is the point at which you think of the story you would like to tell, and how you imagine you can tell that story through the medium of film. Now, you’re welcome to your own opinion, but we think that this is by far the most important part of the process: quite simply, everything hinges on the quality of your idea and its presentation. When you conceive your idea, try to keep it simple: can you pitch it in one sentence? If not, it’s too complicated.
Once you have your idea, break it down and flesh it out with a script and storyboards. It can be surprisingly difficult to stay ‘on message’- in other words, to stay true to your original idea- but this is no bad thing, because all stories evolve. It’s also at this point that you start to think about where you might want to shoot, and who you might want to play each character (although this choice isn’t so hard if you’re at the beginning of your career- you can only really ‘hire’ your friends).
Once you know what you’re going to shoot, you have to shoot it. This is production. As part of what could be called post-pre-production, you have to make sure that your equipment is up to scratch for what you’d like to do: is each shot feasible? Do you need stands, tripods, different kinds of lenses? Consider this before getting started.
Once you’re shooting, remember that it’s better to shoot a little too much rather than a little too little. A good rule of thumb might be that when shooting a small budget film, for every one minute that makes it into your film, three minutes will be left on the cutting room floor. But for now, focus on the following key things: framing, light, focus and sound. If you get these parts right, you can’t go far wrong.
Editing your film is just as important as filming it. This is when you polish what you’ve created, so that it’s coherent in message and tone; this process is what changes a good idea, and perhaps good execution during filming, into a good film. There are different ways to approach editing, but if you’re a beginner, do try to keep it simple.
The first thing to keep in mind is continuity and pacing between shots. This means two things: first that the story is told beat by beat throughout the film, both coherently and consistently, and second that basic details like whether the main character is wearing a hat or holding it in his hands do not change between successive shots. It’s also possible to an extent to edit colour, lighting and sound in post-production, although no amount of editing can fix bad filming. That being said, follow the basic filmmaking process step by step and your film will become something that’ll tell an audience your story.!
It’s the oldest cliché in the book that a media or filmmaking degree is the epitome of a navel gazing, time wasting university education. But to take a step back and genuinely think about the importance of an education in filmmaking, it really isn’t so bad. In fact, we think that a film degree actually gives you a ticket into a growing industry, or alternatively gives you the skills to go and ply your trade elsewhere. Read on and find out some of the wider benefits of learning about understanding and creating film.
A filmmaking degree doesn’t just teach filmmaking
It’s not just learning how to shoot a film that gives a filmmaking degree importance. While we do believe there are more jobs than ever before in media and film, a filmmaking degree can help you into other careers because of the skills that it develops in you, above and beyond simply ‘creativity’.
First things first, studying the creative process gives you an eye for detail that not many other pursuits do. Shooting films requires a level of skill and attention to detail in a thousand different ways: selecting shots, backgrounds, costume, lighting and so on means making a thousand decisions and choices in every second of film.
There are also the points of persistence, because shooting films takes a whole lot of time and effort, and the fact that telling a story or sending a message to your audience can improve your wider skills of persuasion and communication. These skills are useful not just in the film industry, but in jobs from sales and advertising to working in public services. A film degree gives you these skills.
Media is becoming easier to make and easier to access
Back in the 1920’s, commercial radio broadcasting wasn’t available all day. You could only tune in at certain times of the day, and when you did, you might be treated to a light opera like the HMS Pinafore. Fast forward a few decades to the advent of television and ‘pop music’: you might only be able to hear it on pirate radio, but the three minute catchy song had arrived, as well as the all day, every day TV broadcast.
Today, media surrounds us. Music, movies and the written word envelop us, and not just on their terms but on our own. We can pick and choose what to listen to and what to watch at any hour of the day or night. Whether that’s a good or bad thing depends on how much of a cynic you are! What we can all agree on, however is that entertainment is more widespread and more popular than ever.
And because of the entertainment explosion we’re living through, a film degree gives you value and a chance at a career in media. We won’t lie and tell you that jobs in the industry grow on trees, but bear in mind that there only used to be two, then three, then four TV channels; at some point in the past, there was no such thing as YouTube. Opportunities are more abundant today than ever before.